Saturday, 29 May 2021

Learning from Julie Bell and Jamie Chase

 


Thanks to Julie Bell and Jamie Chase, both great Fantasy artists, I can show you how to draw inspiration from masters, to improve your own creativity and skill.

Both Julie Bell and Jamie chase publish their art on Facebook. 

Julie Bell: https://www.facebook.com/julie.bell.589 
Jamie Chase: https://www.facebook.com/jamiechasearts

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Getting Covid-19 in the beginning of April hit me pretty hard. I am recovering though, and I am starting to take interest in things again: Starting a new job on Monday, working on a picture or two, occasionally working on a book, working on getting my photo sessions going again... I am still a bit careful where and when I spend energy though. I expect to recover fully, but it may take quite some time.

The upshot is that I'll probably blog a bit less frequently than usual. In a few months, maybe, I'll pick up speed again.

Fortunately for me, while being sick, and throughout recovery, I've had great support from my family. It has made everything so much easier. Speaking from experience, you really do not want to get Covid-19, and you really, really, do not want to infect relatives and friends, so please be careful out there.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Surrounded! - Further adventures in storyboarding

 


I have wanted to make a picture with lizard men for several years. The project isn't finished yet, but I have a storyboard. In the video above, I talk a bit about my sources of inspiration for the picture.


Surrounded! - Storyboard version

Here is the storyboard. I'll do a photo session when the pandemic has subsided. 



Thursday, 11 February 2021

Art, Misogyny, and Weasels

 

Jungle Pickup, a.k.a. Catch of the Day

The picture above, Jungle Pickup, caused a stir when I published in in an art group on Facebook. Here is an example of the comments I got:

Well, at least one sword and sorcery trope was fulfilled: weasily, weak men using cheap shots to attack their betters.

There was plenty more like that, and several suggestions that I ought to leave the group. So, what had I done that so offended people? When I posted the picture, I wrote the following:

Jungle Pickup, a.k.a. Catch of the Day 

Much as I love Fantasy illustrations from the 60's, 70's, and 80's, there are some things I find a bit annoying.

One of those things is the trope of a huge warrior, sometimes a skulking ape-man, walking with a terrified woman slung over his shoulder. 

I do not like it because the narrative is one of horrific abuse instead of adventure, and causing pain and degradation, rather than triumphing over dangerous obstacles.

So, I decided to flip the story around. Note that who carries whom, is not the only thing I flipped.

The response for the picture was mostly positive. There were more than 70 likes, which is good for one of my pictures in that particular group.

I'd like to stress that most comments were either positive, or straightforward questions about the picture. I appreciate those a lot!

There were also several negative comments, and I found them both revealing and disturbing. Not one negative comment was about flaws in the picture itself. Instead, the comments were about misogyny, and the commenters attacked me for being against it.

Let's have a look:


The first sentence is a good example of a well known logical fallacy, the Straw Man Fallacy. I stated that I find one particular Fantasy trope annoying because it is misogynous. The commenter narrowed that down from disliking a trope to one particular artist, Frank Frazetta, and then broadened it to encompass all of Frazetta's work, and the entire Sword&Sorcery genre. He also eliminated the key part about misogyny. For good measure, he also changed "a bit annoying" to "hate".

It is clear from the second sentence that the writer believes disliking misogyny, abusive behavior towards women, to be "left wing politics", which the writer is not fond of.

In other words, the commenter defends abusive behavior towards women in Fantasy art and literature, and tries to hide what he is doing by first misrepresenting my original statement, and then associating it with political views he believes are disliked by many in the group.

There was another person who jumped in to question the above statement. I'll leave his comment out, but I will include the above commenter's reply:


Again, the straw man attack, followed by an Ad Hominem, i.e. a personal, attack.

I stated that I dislike a Fantasy art trope because the narrative is about abuse towards women. There is no attempt in the first, or the second, comment to refute the argument itself.

Let's move on.


This is a better disguised straw man attack. At first glance, it looks like there is a reasonable argument here, but it is still an argument based on the false assumption that I attacked Frazetta's art. It is still an argument that attacks my dislike of a misogynic trope, even though it is an attack in disguise. The comment is intended to obfuscate, not to present a relevant argument.

It is a bit ironic that if you really look at Frazetta's art, there are plenty of strong female characters in it. A few examples:
Frazetta had a very wide range as an artist, so you can find just about any type of human relationship in his work. The presence of strong female characters is one of the things that I have always liked about Frazetta.

Judging by the comments, the Frazetta defenders I have quoted in this post, would actually be quite upset if they saw the strong and capable women Frazetta drew and painted.

Speaking of irony, I'll include one more comment:


Frazetta is one of the greatest narrative painters ever. Not everything he did was narrative art, but if you look at his greatest works, most of them are narrative art.

If posting narrative art is a reason for leaving the group, then the Frazetta family would not be welcome to post Frazetta's narrative art in a group for Frazetta-inspired art.

The question is, why these attempts to defend a trope showing kidnapped, abused women?

I checked the home pages of some of the commenters. The first page looked fairly normal. The first post of the second page was a recommendation to see an action movie that featured two rapes at the beginning.

I really did not want to check any further.

From time to time I work with female models, and they see and hear, and experience, a lot worse things than the above. They have to be very careful when meeting an artist they haven't worked with before. When the work they have contributed to is published, they are often subjected to denigrating comments. Misogyny is quite common in the art world, both among artists, and audience.

I am very well aware that a blog post like this does very little to reduce the misogyny that exists in the art world, and our society at large. Still, it is important to talk about it, to recognize it for what it is, even though arguments are disguised, or so silly they are difficult to take seriously.

The idea that men and women have equal rights, which includes the right to be respected by, and well treated by others, has not yet taken hold as strongly as it should have.

We still need major changes in our social systems and our attitudes, but I do believe small changes matter too. Misogynists should be opposed, in small matters, as well as large.

Be seeing you!


Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Fishing Trip, and other Storyboarding Adventures

 

Fishing Trip

I haven't blogged regularly in awhile, so I have quite a backlog of storyboards I haven't published here. The reason for not blogging is simply that, since I can't do any photo sessions during the pandemic, I haven't had any finished pictures to show.

On the upside, once I can start shooting again, I have storyboards enough to last for years. I have included just a few of them in this post. I do hope you find them interesting. I have lots more material, so I'll try to catch up over the next few weeks...or months.

About Fishing Trip:

It is Lost World genre picture of course. I never get tired of them. It is the combination of storytelling, extreme drama, and the connections to a rich lore of literature and movies, I think, that makes them so compelling to me.

I'm going with layered storytelling here:

We see the end of a fishing trip. It was almost certainly a dramatic one, because of the size of the fish the protagonist caught.

Then there is the matter of the attacking spinosaur. That story is unresolved, with our protagonist in immediate, mortal peril. Will she die? No, at least not in my imagination. She will probably loose the fish though. 

There is also the possibility of a deux ex machina resolution, where a mosasaur or megalodon emerges from the depths and makes a quick meal of the spinosaur. I prefer stories where the protagonist survives because of her own wit, strength, and skill though, so, if I wrote the story down, I probably would not go that route.

Since I started shooting in a makeshift studio, I have avoided camera angles that make composition with 3D elements more complicated. I am deliberately trying to get away from my comfort zone, because, with just a little camera tilt here and an odd angle there, I can add more drama, and make the pictures more interesting. There is a limit to what I can do in the studio, mainly because it has a ceiling that is quite low, but I should be able to push it a little bit.

A consequence is probably that I'll make more pictures where the protagonist is kneeling, sitting, or laying down. It is an example of how constraints in the world around us, shapes the solutions we create.

Here are a couple more pictures:

Werewolves of London

I got the idea for Werewolves of London from the song of the same name, by Warren Zevon.

Even though the storyboard turned out well, I am not certain I will make a finished photo composite out of this one. The reason is that the protagonist is a bit too sad and dejected for my taste. I like pictures with an active protagonist, fighting on, no matter what the situation.

One option would be to create a series of pictures showing scenes from the same storyline. Then I am perfectly fine with showing both dramatics up and downs.

Shai-Hulud

Shai-Hulud is of course based on Frank Herbert's book Dune. I intended it as a storyboard, but the way it turned out, I do not know if there is anything to gain by making a photo-composite version.


Kermit the Conqueror

Kermit the Conqueror is a spoof on old Conan movie posters from the 80's.

Kermit the Conquered

I wasn't happy with the woman at Kermit's feet, so I had to reverse the roles in Kermit the Conquered.

Much more to my tastes.


A Plague of Demons

A Plague of Demons borrows its title from a book by Keith Laumer. Laumer's book is a Science-Fiction novel, and a very good one. Except for the title, my picture and the book have little in common.

That is it for now! Be seeing you!



Wednesday, 20 January 2021

An Interview with Régis Moulun

 


Fantasy artist Régis Moulun and I talked about one of his paintings recently. This particular painting has had an effect on my own style, and how I think about making pictures.

In the video, Régis talks about the painting, and how he designed it to create maximum dramatic tension.

If you want to see more of Régis art, check out his art page on Facebook.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Sources of Inspiration


 The video is about some of my sources of inspiration.

A special thank you to:

  • Frazetta Girls, for allowing me to use a picture of Frank Frazetta's painting Winged Terror
  • Régis Moulun, for allowing me to use his painting Sauve qui peut! 

Saturday, 2 January 2021

2020 Dreams of Light and Darkness


Better late than never! I had planned to release a video retrospective about what I did in 2020, things that went well, and, shall we say...some learning experiences, on New Years Eve.

I was strapped for time, and came up with the bright idea of making a Keynote presentation on my iPad, exporting it as a movie, and touching it up in iMovie. That, I believed, would allow me to sneak away to work on the presentation, a couple of minutes here, and a couple of minutes there, without hiding away from family and friends. I always feel guilty when hiding away to create pictures, write a book, or edit the occasional video, but if I stopped doing that, I would not be me anymore.

Using the iPad was a big mistake! It turns out, you can record video clips in Keynote, but when you try to export them, Keynote hangs or crashes. I came up with a workaround, hide the video clips, and export slides with pictures only, then combine everything in iMovie instead.

That worked...until I discovered that every time I made a cut in iMovie, iMovie changed the color toning of one of the resulting video clips. On top of that, I discovered that when recording video in Keyonote, the sound is okay, but when recording sound only, the recording is noisy and the overall quality is pretty bad.

Eventually, I gave up, moved all video clips to my PC, and edited everything with DaVinci Resolve instead. As it turned out, DaVinci's noise filter also made a decent job of rescuing the sound recordings.

If I had used DaVinci from the start, I probably would have been ready on time. I hope I remember that lesson next time.

Enough about my video creation misadventures! What's on the video clip? Is it worth your time? If you are interested in Fantasy, Horror, and Science-Fiction art, it might be.

2020 wasn't a good year for photography, but it gave me the opportunity to think, to come up with new ideas, and to storyboard them. On the video you will find material from the one photo session I had in 2020, with the model and actress Eliza Sica. You will also find plenty of storyboards, and you will be able to compare some of the storyboards with finished photo composites.

While working on the video, it became rather obvious that my pictures changed quite a bit over the course of the year. For the better, I think. I have built connections with a number of very good artists on Facebook in 2020. That, combined with diving head first into art books by Régis Moulun, James Gurney, Frank Frazetta (well, a book with his art, not a book by him), Patrick J. Jones, and others, and practicing 3D storyboarding a lot, has made a difference.

I wish you a great 2021! The odds are pretty good that it will be better than 2020.